by Diane Benjamin
Tuesday night the Bloomington City Council is being asked to provide a little over $21,000 to a group of ministers to operate a 12 week summer program for older youth. The money will be used for rent (at 2 Westside churches), salaries, and really big utility bills. See the meeting packet:
While it is admirable for the churches to want to provide guidance for teens out of school with no supervision, what happened to separation of church and state? What happens when the another church has a great project and comes to the Council for funding? If this proposal is approved, it sets a bad precedent for the future. The council will be unable to deny any other requests without the risk of lawsuits.
The Council needs to have a discussion on the role of government, proper use of taxpayer money, and what if any charitable operations to fund. This is clearly an attempt by one or a few alderman to get funding for their constituents. This item should have been rejected immediately because of law not allowing government support for religious activities.
Instead, a few aldermen may vote no on principle and then be ostracized for not caring about kids. Nothing can be farther from the truth – but that truth will never be known unless citizens attend the meeting.